A journey into the impenetrable jungle that separates the Americas
The road stops. A break in the 30,000 mile Pan American Highway that stretches all the way back to Fairbanks, Alaska. You’ve come to its end... and it is where your journey begins.
The area is wild - jaguars, venomous snakes and poisonous dart frogs inhabit the sparsely populated rainforest on the border between Panama and Colombia. No roads can be found here and the only humans that call the area home are the indigenous indians (Embrea) and the FARC guerillas. The area is definitely not for the casual traveler.
This is the Darien Gap.
But for those willing and thoroughly prepared to forge ahead, there are secrets to be found.
One such cultural treasure is the “Yarre Mongara” or Monkey Stone. On your you expedition into the jungle, you will have the rare chance to see the petroglyphs of a 5,000 year old civilization. First documented in 1995, these ancient stone carvings are located deep in the Darien Jungle and only accessible through a combination of trekking and canoe.
On route to the Monkey Stone, you will be led by your expedition leader with 17 years of guiding experience in the area. This aim of the expedition is not only to safely locate the petroglyphs, but also to cross from Sambu village in the north to Playa Muerto on the Pacific coast. Along route, the team will need to traverse the Sapo Mountain Range and canoe down the Tigre river.
Traverse the El Sapo Mountain Range and negotiate the inhospitable jungle to complete a truly remarkable journey.
Discover ancient petroglyphs that are rarely seen by outsiders
Explore the Tigre River and tributaries by canoe and boat.
- Learn about the culture, history and current status of the Darien Gap.
- Finish your trek on the shores of the pacific in a remote beach hut.
The Darien Gap is a 100 km stretch of jungle that separates North from South America. As a result of its remoteness, wildlife thrive in the area including harpy eagles, macaw, jaguar, tapir, anteaters and caiman (Please be aware this is a trekking expedition and not a wildlife safari. Wildlife is not the main objective of the expedition.)
In terms of local population, the Embrea are indigenous to the area and live in small communities of 5 to 20 houses. They subsist mostly on fish and traditional hunting techniques and earn a valuable source of income from gold panned from the rivers of the area. Adorned in colored skirts and intricately painted body art, they are visually striking.
Pygmy Miles Total
For every $1 you book with Pygmy Elephant, you receive 1 Pygmy Mile. Inquire for exact pricing.
For every 1 mile you trek, you receive 10 Pygmy Miles.
The company we work with is based in Panama. The owner has been organizing tours in the area for 17 years and has extensive knowledge of the jungle. This isn’t some multi-national, faceless company, but an owner operated business. We think more care goes into the trips because of it and as a side benefit, more care to sustainability of tourism in the area.
Without Vehicle Support
Furthermore, with the exception of cooking equipment and some gear carried by porters, everything you’ll need for 10 days will be carried on your back.
Total Pygmy Miles
In the jungle, all sorts of creepy crawlies line the jungle floor. Add on twigs, branches and twisted root systems, it’s much better to hover above the ground than on it. Enter the jungle hammock. It keeps you dry, clean and comfortable. The hammocks used by our expedition partner were designed by them, and especially for the heat and humidity of the rain forrest. You simply can’t find anything as well designed on the market. They setup in minutes and provide maximum airflow to keep you ventilated. (photo Fran Tapia)
Food in the Jungle
When not eating in local villages to help bolster their economy, you will be eating homemade food appropriate for the environment. Your guide has significant experience with cooking in the jungle. He has been experimenting with food dehydration for years. His goal is to transport the taste of homemade food into the wilderness. He prepares elaborate local food, pasta dishes, meats and fruits and lays them out to dry and then rehydrates them on the trail. To him, one of the greatest joys on the trail is to gulp jungle coffee and a plate of rice and beans with a piece of smoked tasajo.
Set Dates: March 5th to 18th, 2016
8 Days / 7 Nights or 13 Days / 12 Nights
Other dates will be added as they become available.
Inquire if you are interested and we can work on setting up a new date.
Join a guided tour
Private expeditions run with 4 or more. Contact Pygmy Elephant to see about other possible dates. Even if you are a single, it is possible to link you with other interested parties to form a new expedition team.
Level : Medium
Level : High
Level : High
This is one of the more challenging journeys we offer at Pygmy Elephant and there are inherent dangers in the trip, including the very remote possibility of an encounter with FARC guerillas. A level of backpacking experience is expected for team members. Before the expedition will be undertaken, thorough planning is necessary, including coordination with the SENAFRONT who patrol the border between Panama and Colombia. Ultimately, it is their decision whether to allow the expedition to go forward. Alternative itineraries are prepared in case the area is too dangerous for an expedition.